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When Shin Joong Hyun was asked to write a song praising the South Korean dictator Park Chung Hee and the so-called Blue House (Korean version of White House) in 1972, he refused to do so and wrote a song about the natural aspect of Korea called Beautiful Rivers and Mountains, a move that would make some of his music prohibited and lead to an arrest for smoking marijuana, it also gave the name to this recently released compilation of his songs from 1958 - 1974. But just who is Shin Joong Hyun?
Along side Clapton, Jeff Beck, Van Halen, Malmsteen and Stevie Ray Vaughan, you'll notice a 6th name when it comes to the Fender custom tribute shop series, that of South Korean psychedelic rock pioneer Shin Joong Hyun. Also known as The Godfather of Rock, he lost his mother at a young age and gained a Japanese step mother that saw his childhood spent between Manchuria and Japan, by the age of 15 both his father and step-mother had also died, so he moved to Seoul and worked at a pharmacist whilst learning how to play guitar.
By the end of the 50s, he'd dubbed himself Jackie Shin and was playing at US Army bases, fascinating soldiers with his psychedelic style and giving birth to a type of music that was far closer to rock than the more classical styles typical of Korea until that point.
The title track is a hectic piece of drug induced psychedelia, heavy on keyboards contrasting the gentle vocals that almost turn to a whisper at times, likewise the guitar playing is rather soft, the song has a great melody that spans almost a whopping 10 minutes but is much more welcoming than most prog rock.
The song "The Sun" features Kim Jung Mi on vocals and is almost like a lullaby, although I can't claim to understand Korean, her voice is very smooth and soothing, she was quite the star herself and albums are widely available of her own music which is also very good.
"Please Don't Bother Me Anymore" is somewhat more aggressive, a 'beat' type chorus and repetitive little guitar riff combined with some psychedelic keyboard playing and an awesome guitar solo.
If there's one major flaw to this album, it's the fact that they've left off one of Shin Joong Hyun's signature tunes which is his cover of Iron Butterfly's "In A Kadda Da Vida", perhaps it would have bumped up the cost of the album due to royalties but it's sorely missed.
The later 70s stuff tends to be more bluesier with heavy psychedelic keyboard playing when compared to the earlier, sweeter poppier tracks. J Blues 72 is a great example of that heavy bluesier hard rock sound.
The label that released this album is the cooly named "Light in the Attic Records", who have some really great albums worth checking out. At £7.70, you'll be pushed to find a better value psychedelic album from Asia, you can pay much more for worse quality (content and remastering wise) compilations. I should also add that the album comes with a rather interesting booklet filled with information and old photos about the artist.